If you had a chance to sit down with Prime Minister what would you talk to her about?
Unleashed member ecochick (or Leah to her mates) was faced with just that question recently, when Julia Gillard paid a visit to her school. Check out what Leah and her best buds had to say to the PM, and you'll understand soon enough why she's our latest Activist Challenge winner.
Speaking to the PM about factory farmingand live animal exports is fantastic. But the cherry on top is that Leah and her friends challenged the Prime Minister to go veg for two weeks. And she accepted!
I'll be crossing my fingers that Julia tries out my mum's vegan lasagne recipe in her two weeks of meat-free meals.
Mum's lasagne + a few vegan cupcakes to sweeten the deal, and with any luck Ms Gillard could become the next cruelty-free world leader. Bill Clinton and the ex-President of Slovenia (yup - random fact of the day - he was vegan), would be proud.
But now I'm getting off topic... We were talking about future leaders (I'm looking at you Leah). You can find out more about Leah's meeting with Julia Gillard here and show her some love for her efforts here!
Have you been getting active for animals too? Tell us your story and go in the running to be an Unleashed Activist Challenge winner, just like Leah :-)
2012 has been HUGE! Forget Gangnam Style, One Direction and Diablo 3 - this year has been all about animal rights. See what I mean with this inspiring year in review.
Everything in that vid was possible because of your support. So if you shared a campaign on Facebook, went to a rally, wrote an email to a politician, tweeted at a celeb, made a personal pledge against cruelty, or did anything else to support our work - then THANK YOU!!
All we want for Christmas is a world where all animals are free from fear and suffering. It's a good thing our New Year's Resolution is to make that happen! I hope you'll be a part of it in 2013!
Levy the lamb had the odds stacked against him from the day he was born. Standing terrified by the side of a busy road, and refusing to leave his dead mother - things did not look good for Levy. His remarkable story of survival and his life now will amaze you. Read on for Unleashed's exclusive interview with Levy the Lamb!
Hi Levy. Thanks for making time for the interview.
Well I am missing morning tea for this but I'm a fan of Unleashed, so that's ok.
What else have you got planned for today?
Later today I might go for a walk with the dogs, have a snack then maybe a snooze before I help mum with the farm chores.
And what would be the perfect day for you?
Well that's a pretty good day but for it to be perfect add more snacks, some electrical cords to chew and perhaps an arvo inside the house ... preferably the kitchen, that's where the humans hide the good stuff.
You had a very tough start to your life. Can you tell us what your first memories are?
Wow! It's hard to go back there... Well, I remember I was on the side of a road with crows pecking at me. I wanted sheep-mum to wake up and tell them to go away but she was asleep. I was cold, lonely and hungry. I remember a nice man picking me up and looking after me. He mustn't have been able to wake sheep-mum up either so we had to leave without her. (INTERVIEWERS NOTE: Levy was born on the side of a busy road after his mum had fallen out of a sheep truck. She gave birth to Levy as she passed away, and so couldn't protect him from the crows.)
Do you know what would have happened to all those other sheep on the truck with you?
There is a lot of talk amongst my kind as to where those trucks go. Human-mum doesn't like them though so I'm guessing my mates didn't end up in a paddock full of delicious grass. I've heard horror stories about some humans killing and eating animals like me... I'll need therapy if I talk about that too much.
How did you come to be living with your current family?
The nice man who picked me up from the side of the road took me to a nice lady who looked after me for a couple weeks but she didn't have any grass for me to eat. So she took me to another nice lady (human-mum) who has a lot of grass. At first she fed me milk and let me sleep in the bed with her but now I am all grown up and I really like all the grass.
Do you have many friends to spend the day with?
Oh yeah I have loads of friends. The three dogs are my BFF's, the horses are alright, the pig is cool as long as you are on her good side (don't mention her waist line and you should be right). The cats are a bit strange, there are chickens and other sheep like me but I'm a real people person, I like my humans the most.
I know for a fact that you're determined to help your fellow sheep. Tell us what you've been up to and who you've met?
Human-mum raised me right, it's important to help those less fortunate, you know! I've had photo shoots; I'm on the Stop Live Export website and signs; and I've been on the news and in newspapers. I enjoy helping at stalls and protests and I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of nice people who are doing some super awesome things to help animals. I've even met politicians like Lisa Baker, Lynn MacLaren and Melissa Parke.
What's one interesting fact that people may not know about sheep like you? Just one?! Hmm, ok ... I can remember 50 different faces for about two years. So that means if you get on my bad side I have two years to come after you! Mwah-ha-haaaa!
Can you give us three words to describe yourself?
Handsome, loving and cheeky.
Is there a final message you want to pass on to all the young people reading today?
Young 'uns! You are our hope for a better future. Every cruelty-free choice you make, every person you inform and every time you help an organisation in any way, it gets us closer to ending the abuse of my mates. Don't let people pull the wool over your eyes ... we don't want to go on trucks and ships, we don't want our babies stolen from us, we don't want to spend our lives in tiny cages, we want to be happy and live!
Thanks for telling us your story today, Levy! (And thanks to your human-mum Rachael for her help in translating, too).
Levy escaped the fate facing countless numbers of animals around Australia, who are either killed in Australia for meat, or live exported to other countries. Once they leave Australian shores they face voyages across oceans, and many die at sea. In the countries they are exported to, they are slaughtered in ways that most Australians would object to.
Levy now has a girlfriend!! This is just very recent news, so details are sketchy at the moment. I can tell you though that Levy is very much in love, and wants to do nothing but spend all day with his new lady-lamby friend.
Unconfirmed reports state that Levy and his girlfriend have been "sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G." But seeing as how they are sheep, and sheep are not known for their awesome tree-climbing skills ... I find these reports to be highly doubtful.
There has been only one photo so far of the lovely couple. Judging by how close they're standing though, I would say that Levy is probably at second base. You go, Levy!!
In the calm waters of Eilat Bay in Israel, an unusual white figure was seen bobbing in the cold water. Was it a boat? A pelican? No. It was an Australian sheep, swimming for his life.
Sahar, as he became known, had jumped or fallen from the nearby pier where a live export ship was unloading. He was beyond exhausted, and struggling to stay afloat. His fleece was waterlogged, and his thin legs, ever intended for swimming, were paddling fast but failing to keep his head above water.
Were it not for the decisive actions of a 14 year old boy who jumped into the water and raised the alarm, Sahar's life may have ended then and there. But instead, a remarkable rescue operation ensued. The pictures say it all...
The image of a 50 kilogram sheep swimming off the coast of Israel might seem like an odd sight. But in reality, thousands of Australian sheep pass these waters every year. Sahar was just one of tens of thousands of stressed and confused sheep packed onto a live export ship in Australia, bound for slaughter in the Middle East.
Not all of Sahar's companions even survived the boat trip. Some died of starvation onboard as they couldn't get used to eating the unfamiliar pellet feed given on the ship. The sheep that did make it to Israel faced an even more horrible fate: a knife cut to the throat while fully conscious, before bleeding to death on the floor of an Israeli slaughterhouse.
This brutal death is not a one-off or some accident. This practice is accepted by Australia's live export industry without question. Yet it was clear to the people who helped Sahar that he deserved better. "Our thought was that the sheep deserved freedom, that it would be unfair to lead him to slaughter." said one of Sahar's rescuers.
The rescue team was forced to fight for Sahar's life a second time when the sheep importer learned of the rescue and demanded that Sahar be slaughtered along with his shipmates. Fortunately Sahar's rescuers were able to persuade the importer to surrender the sheep into their care.
After veterinary checks and a lot of TLC, Sahar regained his strength and was given sanctuary at a nearby Kibbutz (like a community-run farm). His gentle nature and amazing story made him a favourite with local kids who affectionately describe him as a "celebrity"!
Sahar's extraordinary story is one in a million. Yet he was no more deserving of compassion than the thousands of individual animals who began his journey with him. While we cannot save animals who have already met a cruel fate, we can save others from similar suffering.
It was one year ago today that Four Corners aired footage from Animals Australia's first investigation in Indonesia, and shocked the Australian public with the brutal and undeniable cruelty of the live export industry. It's amazing to think just how far we've come in 12 months. Check out what's been achieved...
Hundreds of thousands putting the heat on pollies to stop the trade through emails, letters and phone calls.
A whopping 60,000 media stories about live exports (here and overseas!) in 2011.
Not to mention four historic proposals in Parliament to end live exports.
People power has brought us this far and has made live export an issue no politician can ignore! Together, we've shone a spotlight on this cruel trade! Not only have our efforts forced animal welfare improvements across numerous countries, sheep exports have also dropped to a ten year low, meaning that hundreds of thousands of sheep have been spared from a gruelling journey and brutal slaughter. (Want to see the full checklist of what's been achieved? Click here.)
After the investigation aired, we heard from so many people who made the choice to take animals off their plates. It seems I wasn't the only one getting all choked up watching the heartbreaking story of Tommy the steer, shivering with fear as he awaited his death.
While some victories have been won, the larger campaign to end all live exports from Australia continues. And this is where you can do your part for the animals!
Share the campaign with your friends! It's so simple but so important. Facebook, Twitter, wherever - get the message out there that live exports need to be stopped.
If you're voting age: Tell the PM what you think! She's there to serve Australians, right? So tell her exactly what you want to see done.
Get published! The letters page in the paper is one of the most read sections. Your letter will speak for the millions of young Australians who want an end to live exports.
Gather signatures! Easier than you'd think. Print off a petition to end live exports. Take it to class or to a lecture; the canteen or the cafe and get other people involved.
Thanks to the amazing support of people like you, this campaign has already had a huge impact! With your continued help, the entire ugly trade can be banned for good. What's the next step you're going to take?
We’re supposed to let you know that the ideas expressed here are the views of the individual authors, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia or Animals Australia Unleashed. So now you know.